Another edition of the “China derby” is upon us as Beijing Guoan heads south to take on Shanghai Shenhua. The last one was a classic, with Mao Jianqing scoring late to give the Beijingers a 3-2 victory, will this one rise to that level?
The new signings for both clubs are going to be a major part of this one, whether on the pitch or not. Of course, Shenhua’s major new signing Didier Drogba, will be in the crowd at Hongkou on Saturday night. More important, though, will be Moreno, who looked like a great pickup
against Jiangsu (despite a tendency to whine about every call). He looks to be the midfield organizer and creator that Shenhua have been sorely missing.
For Beijing, Pacheco may choose to start new man Freddie Kanoute instead of lining up in the no striker lineup he’s used lately. Guoan fans are even more excited to see Joffre Guerron, who performed impressively during a half hour of play against R&F. He may be the winger that Guoan has been missing, a player who can be dominant like Walter Martinez was last season.
The Hongkou Curse
Guoan has never come away from Hongkou taking three points. With Shanghai all over the place this year, this is a great opportunity for Guoan to finally win at Hongkou. The visitors have struggled on the road this year but have looked better than usual over the past few matches and are going to want to stray in the title race. That said, last year looked like an equally good chance and yet Shenhua won it late. At some point Guoan’s going to need to leave Hongkou with three points, why not this year.
The Mao Factor
Mao Jianqing’s goal in the match at Gongti continued a trend of him scoring against Shenhua almost every time out. After looking good early in the season, his touch has been failing him as of late, rendering Mao almost completely ineffective. Guoan doesn’t need to rely on him in this one, but if he’s motivated in this one, it may be enough to finally allow Guoan to seize all three points.
I’m worried about Moreno’s skill and strength, but I think Darko Matic is good enough to dampen his impact. Zhou Ting has been a boogeyman for Feng Renliang, completely shutting down the speedy winger. With Piao Cheng able to slot behind the striker and Xu Liang and Wang Xiaolong playing some excellent football…Fuck it, I’m going with my heart and saying Guoan takes it 2-0, but I think the man in the lower north stand probably has it right.
Ground: Hongkou Football Stadium, Hongkou District, Shanghai
Capacity: 35,000 (26,000 for football)
Honours: Chinese top-tier league champions: 1995
Chinese top-tier league runners-up: 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2006, 2008
Chinese FA Cup winners: 1998
Chinese FA Cup runners up: 1995, 1997, 2015